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Laura (Femmes Fatales) Paperback – October 1, 2005
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The story revolves around Detective Mark McPherson's investigation into the murder of Laura Hunt. McPherson has somewhat of a celebrity status within the department due to some front page cases he has been involved with. But he is unprepared for the high society circles Laura moved in, and Caspery lets us see through his eyes the affectations of the rich. It is a world where people begin their insults with endearing terms like darling, then proceed to use words the roughest seaman wouldn't use to tear you apart.
Laura's benefactor and sometimes companion, Waldo Lydecker, is the poster boy for such behavior. He uses his well known newspaper column to destroy all Laura's would be suitors. Only the man she was set to marry, Shelby Carpenter, was able to withstand the glare of Lydecker's poison pen scrutiny. But on the weekend before she was to be married, a knock on the door late at night, followed by a shotgun blast, cuts her life short.
Waldo Lydecker begins the narration, then McPherson picks up where he left off. It is during McPherson's narration we get to see events as they really are, and we understands his actions. Caspery creates a real atmosphere to scenes between Lydecker and McPherson.Read more ›
Taking a cue from Wilkie Collins "The Woman in White", "Laura" uses the still-unusual multiple-perspective structure, telling a wild murder-mystery story in the voices of alternating characters. Now, if you have never seen "Laura" and somehow do not know the famous story, stop reading this review. Don't read any reviews, don't learn a thing more about it, just buy a copy and dig in. I can't imagine what a pleasure this book would be if you came to it unprepared. What a literary experience! Come back and we'll talk about it later.
Just the people who already know the plot left? Good. "Laura" is still very much worth reading if you've seen the film, and even manages to be suspenseful. Laura herself is a bit more fleshed out; less sultry siren and more coltish young girl. Mark is one of my all-time favorite novel detectives; part everyman, part smart-cookie, all hottie. The dialogue crackles, the characters live and breathe, and the pace is lightning.
While I'm grateful to the Feminist Press for reissuing "Laura" I can't warm to their introduction, which tries to pass off this and other books in the "Women Who Write Pulp" series as more hard-boiled than they really are, and the afterword by A. B. Emrys struck me as kinda stupid. Skip them both if you like and get to Vera Caspary's masterpiece, really one of the greatest detective novels ever written. And let's spread her name around a bit, she deserves it.
Its not like the movie, which in my oppinion is good. It doesn't diminish the quality of the movie, nor does it take away from its own merrits of suspence and excitement. I loved it. Vera Caspery made the characters more defined, the image of Laura became clearer as did those of Shelby, Mark, and Waldo.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
While aspects of the writing are dated, that's not at all a criticism or a bad thing. The writing is never clunky or hard to understand. Read morePublished 1 month ago by D. Lee
The movie starring Gene Tierney and Clifton Webb is one of my favorites. I bought the book to see how closely the movie tracked to the book. The movie is much better.Published 2 months ago by D. Anderson
If you've seen the movie, you may not like the book. I didn't think it was nearly as good as the movie. Read morePublished 2 months ago by gragur-20
This classic crime novel was first published in 1942, and in 1944, Otto Preminger made from it the equally classic film starring Gene Tierney and Dana Andrews and featuring a... Read morePublished 4 months ago by James L. Thane
The movie has long been a favorite of mine. Glad I finally read the book. I enjoyed the different narrators. Laura is a more intriguing character in the book than in the movie. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Gail in Virginia
Brought back old memories of the movie which I loved....Published 5 months ago by Caroline Bertholf
Having seen the movie version a number of times, I believe I liked the movie version better. It was interesting to see how close the book and movie were.Published 6 months ago by Iris Rae Accettola
If you've seen the flick it is worthwhile reading the book. The murder is carried out quite differently in the book and I imagine the screenplay writers had a heck of a time... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Lukman